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The History of the CBA and What We Do

Last modified: 23 September 2014

George Hague, banker, Montreal, QC, 1879 Notman & Sandham

George Hague, banker, Montreal, QC, 1879 Notman & Sandham

Who We Are

One of Canada’s oldest business associations, the CBA was founded in Montreal on December 17, 1891 and subsequently incorporated by a special act of Parliament in 1900. (You can see CBA President Terry Campbell's video message on the 120th anniversary here and watch MP James Rajotte's member statement in the House of Commons here).

During the revision of the Bank Act in 1890, both bankers and the government realized that a more formal banking organization was required, similar to what existed in the United States and Britain. George Hague, General Manager of the Merchants Bank of Canada, was elected President of the new association in 1891.

George Hague, first president of the CBA, 1891-1893

George Hague, first president
of the CBA, 1891-1893

First page of the first issue of the Journal of the Canadian Bankers’ Association, 1893

First page of the first issue of the Journal of the Canadian Bankers’ Association, 1893

The Journal

At the second annual meeting of the association held in June 1893, George Hague suggested “the publication of a “Quarterly” purely in the interest of banks and their officers.” The first issue of the Journal of the Canadian Bankers Association, was published in September of the same year with a lead article on “Banking in Canada” by B.E. Walker, General Manager of the Canadian Bank of Commerce and then president of the CBA.

Subscriptions could be purchased for one dollar per year. In 1968, the editor wryly remarked that the magazine “represent[ed] one of the staunchest bulwarks against inflation in Canadian economic history [given that] its subscription of $1 per year for 1893 had increased only to $2 per year by 1968.” In 1936, the name of the Journal was changed to The Canadian Banker and was published continuously under that name until the final issue was printed in the autumn of the year 2000.

Advertisement

This public notice, published by the CBA during the First World War, demonstrates the effect of the war on Canadian bank employees and their ability to provide service

Membership

Back in the 1890s, the Association was a voluntary organization with about 600 individuals – bank associates from the nation’s banks including the Bank of British North America, the Canadian Bank of Commerce, the Merchants' Bank of Halifax (which became the Royal Bank of Canada), Molson’s Bank, Banque Nationale, the BMO Financial Group, the Dominion Bank (which amalgamated with the Bank of Toronto) and the Bank of Nova Scotia.

The CBA and Canada’s Game

Canada’s banks and Canada’s game have long been linked. The Canadian Bankers Hockey Association Challenge Cup was first presented for competition by Clarence Bogart, General Manager of the Dominion Bank of Canada and then President of the Canadian Bankers Association in 1921. Awarded annually, the Cup was last presented in 1938 and is now on exhibit at the Hockey Hall of Fame in Toronto.

Canadian Bankers and Montreal Bankers<br>Hockey Leagues cups, 1924 Wm. Notman & Son

Canadian Bankers and Montreal Bankers
Hockey Leagues cups, 1924 Wm. Notman & Son

Suggestions for further reading on the history of the CBA.

The CBA today

Today, the Canadian Bankers Association works on behalf of 60 domestic banks, foreign bank subsidiaries and foreign bank branches operating in Canada and their 280,000 employees and it continues to provide governments and others with a centralized contact to all banks on matters relating to banking in Canada. The CBA advocates for effective public policies that contribute to a sound, successful banking system that benefits Canadians and Canada's economy.

The Association promotes financial literacy to help Canadians make informed financial decisions and sponsors a financial literacy seminar program for senior high school students called Your Money Students.

The Association also works with banks and law enforcement to help protect customers against financial crime and promote fraud awareness through the CBA’s Bank Crime Prevention and Investigation Office.

Member service

The CBA provides its members with information, research and operational support, and contributes to the development of public policy on issues that affect financial institutions. The Association is continually involved in financial data collection and analysis, consumer protection efforts, fighting bank fraud, and developing industry consensus on issues impacting banks in Canada.

CBA Community Involvement

Banks and their employees are among Canada's top corporate donors to charities and non-profit organizations and have a long tradition of community participation. As the industry association for the banks, the CBA and its employees are also committed to giving back to communities. Over the years, employees of the CBA have participated in events and fundraisers and provided donations to the United Way of Canada, the Heart and Stroke Foundation of Canada, the Canadian Breast Cancer Foundation, the Canadian Cancer Society, the North York Harvest Food Bank, the North York Women's Shelter, Denise House and the Cure Foundation.

As part of its efforts to support youth, the Parliamentary Internship Programme (PIP) has also received funding and support from the CBA for more than 20 years. The PIP is a non-partisan initiative that gives young Canadians an opportunity to work on Parliament Hill with both Government and Opposition Members of Parliament. Since 1969, almost 400 young Canadians have benefited from the Programme, with many going on to senior positions in the academic, public and private spheres.

Governance

The Association’s rules and procedures are contained in the Special Act of Parliament of Canada incorporating the CBA, as amended, and the bylaws of the CBA. Decisions are made by committees that are comprised of member bank representatives.

Executive Council

The Executive Council functions as the board of directors of the CBA. Its composition includes a councillor (senior executive) from:

  • Each individually represented bank (six largest domestic banks together with HSBC Bank Canada, Canadian Western Bank and Laurentian Bank)
  • One representative from the Domestic Bank Group (currently President's Choice Financial)
  • Two representatives from the Foreign Bank Group (currently Citibank of Canada and Royal Bank of Scotland)

The CBA President also sits on the Executive Council.

The major bank CEOs nominate their respective representatives on the Executive Council and it is the CEO or his or her nominee who votes at the meeting of the Association.

Senior Committees

Senior Committees report to Executive Council and manage the industry issues assigned to them by Executive Council.

Lobbyist registration

The CBA adheres to federal and provincial lobbyist registration rules and requirements.

Privacy

The CBA operates on the basis of a privacy policy and related procedures that guide its handling of the personal information it collects. This policy deals only with personal information handled by the CBA.

Working with others

In Canada

The CBA works with federal and provincial governments, business associations and consumer groups to help ensure that regulations and other rules impacting the banking industry are efficient and effective. The banking industry is a strong driver of the Canadian economy and annually contributes tens of billions of dollars to Canada’s GDP and delivers financing for consumers and businesses. In 2013 Canada’s profitable banking sector provided more than $13.5 billion in dividend income to public and private pension plans, contributing to the retirement savings of the majority of Canadians. With more than 40 banks offering retail financial products and services to Canadians, consumers are well served by an innovative and competitive marketplace.

Internationally

The Canadian Bankers Association is also active in promoting the Canadian banking system internationally and is a member of the International Banking Federation (IBFed). In fact, for seven consecutive years the World Economic Forum has ranked Canada’s banking system as the world’s soundest.

Further reading about the history of the CBA

The following are further sources of information about the history of the Canadian Bankers Association and of the banking industry in Canada:

Crawford and Falconbridge Banking and Bills of Exchange – A treatise on the Law of Banks, Banking, Bills of Exchange and the Payment System in Canada, Bradley Crawford, Canada Law Book Inc., 1986.

Adam Shortt’s History of Canadian Currency and Banking 1600-1880, Canadian Bankers Association, 1986.